The Nature of the Beast: Commentary on “Can There Be a Recovery-Oriented Diagnostic Practice?”

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4 Scopus citations


Pavlo, Flanagam, Leither, and Davidson attempt to reconcile the recovery movement in mental health service with a formal diagnostic practice is as courageous as it is timely. Acknowledging this, I note several points of convergence and divergence with the authors’ views. Points of convergence include (1) the inevitability of a diagnostic system when working with (severe) mental illness, (2) the importance of going beyond signs and symptoms in capturing the unique characteristics of the person, (3) the focus on humanistic values, particularly the emphasis on a collaborative assessment and on human strengths, in the diagnostic process, and (4) the role of future-oriented thinking in diagnosis. Divergence with the authors concerns (1) my own reliance on descriptive psychiatry, with its focus on signs and symptoms, as a part and parcel of an effective diagnosis, (2) the potential benefits of psychological tests, for example, self-report questionnaires and projective procedures over and above the clinical interview, and (3) my emphasis on mental representations of self-with-others, termed here and elsewhere as “agents in relations,” as the building blocks of personality and psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-355
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • agency
  • assessment
  • diagnostics
  • humanistic psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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